TRAINING AS MOBILIZATION
by Phil Bartle, PhD
The strengthening community management methodology involves community development techniques plus community management training
Our Special Meaning of "Training:"
The word "training" is often assumed to be only the transfer of skills to trainees. Encouragement is seen as a peripheral aspect. In community management training, it goes much further in its role of poverty reduction and capacity building. It also includes mobilizing the group to take action and organizing to increase capacity and strength.
The essential elements of training in this special sense include:
It is the last two of those elements that make this training special; training AS mobilization, not merely training ABOUT mobilization.
Training is used as a method to raise public awareness about issues, eg gender awareness, environmental appropriateness, the revolutionary motion that poverty is not just an act of God or Destiny but can be changed if people are willing to take the necessary steps.
Sensitization in community management training includes letting the target groups know that we are not a charity to depend upon, but provide training that will assist them to help them selves.
When awareness raising results in a better understanding of problems (eg that there is gender imbalance which hinders development), training then complements the result by providing information that there are solutions to problems, so long as the target group participants are willing to undertake them.
The orthodox meaning of "training," often assumes only the skill transfer element. That means the trainer imparts skills to the trainees. The special meaning of community management training does not exclude skill transfer, it merely makes other elements more explicit.
While some practical skills such as carpentry and masonry are useful, they are not urgently lacking in most communities. What is needed are skills in mobilizing, in planning, in resource identification, is assessment of needs and community priorities, in project design, in proposal writing, in keeping records, in simple project accounting, in monitoring progress, in reporting and report writing, and in financial reporting (accountability). The transfer of these management skills is one of the key purposes of community management training.
The encouragement of people to act on their own behalf, not to simply hope and wait for outside assistance, is done by letting the target groups know that they have the right (even the duty) and the ability to change things for the better.
They are informed of their assets and admirable qualities, not criticized, and they are praised and recognized for their achievements. This encouragement affects peoples' attitudes, makes them more willing to act on their own behalf and altruistically on behalf of their communities.
When a group or a community is more encouraged, it is stronger. (See Elements of Community Strengthening).
Mobilization and Organizing:
An important element of a community becoming more empowered, is for it to engage in action. Simply forming some structures (with a Chair, Vice, Treasurer and Secretary, for example) is not action in itself, such structures are means towards organizing the community to act. Mobilizing means moving; getting something done. Organizing to get something done effectively is important in management training.
This is a methodology that marries techniques from widely varied sources, (1) trade union organizing and (2) high level corporate executive management training. Both are aimed not at individual skill transfer but at group formation and organizing for increased capacity and effectiveness. (To look at the distinction between organizing for decision making and organizing for action, see the training module Organizing).
The trainees are not merely students absorbing skills and information. They are participants who are already part of an organization, or expected to become part of an organization as a result of the training sessions. The sessions use such techniques as "The brainstorm"
(See: Brainstorming Techniques) to draw out of the participants the purpose and goals of the group, and the most effective way to organize the group for (1) decision making, and (2) action. The output of the training is not only more informed and skilled trainees, but participants who are organized (or reorganized) and mobilized for action.
Community management training has adapted these to community strengthening and empowering. See Management Training for more explanation of the mobilization and organizing aspects of management training.
© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle